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Kurth Memorial Library  


 

 

In 1924, a group of ladies began to collect books to establish a library in Lufkin.  The Ladies Auxiliary of the Chamber of Commerce purchased a former kindergarten school building on Ellis Avenue and opened Lufkin’s first public library in that one room frame building.  Mrs. J. W. Hawkins was the librarian and the library was home to approximately 1,000 books. 

 
 
 In the 1920s, a Lufkin citizen, Joseph H. Kurth bequeathed $10,000 to the city to be used for “Lufkin’s greatest civic need”.  His sons, J.H., E.L, R.W., and Melvin, decided that a library should be erected in memory of their parents, and a lovely brick building was erected on Cotton Square.  Kurth Memorial Library opened on January 1, 1933, with Mrs. Ora McMullen as the first employed librarian, and a book collection numbering at approximately 2,500. 
By 1940, the library’s collection had reached 10,250 volumes.  As the community grew and library needs were expanded, the building was added to in 1948 and again in the 1960s.  In 1970, when the original building was in need of repairs and remodeling which were not feasible, a fund-raising campaign was started and ground was broken in 1971 for a new building, twice as large as the original building, in the same location.  Major renovations were done to the building in the mid-1980s.
In the late 1990s, with the library once again in need of help due to growth and a building in dire need of repairs, the community once again stepped in to help.  An anonymous donor provided funding to build a new library at the current location on South Raguet.  Ribbon cutting for this new building was on April 26, 2001.
   In 1965, the Lufkin Genealogical and Historical Society started the genealogy, local and state history collection known as the “Ora McMullen Room.”  Today, the Ora McMullen Genealog
y Room houses the John Wilkins Collection and attracts people throughout East Texas who enjoy researching their family heritage.  The genealogy collection includes United States census information in book form and microfilm from 1850 through 1930 for most counties in Texas and several southern states, the Lufkin Daily News on microfilm from 1913 through 2007, access to online genealogy research tools such as Ancestry.com and Heritage Quest, as well as an extensive collection of print resources that contain data for most states.
   On October 1, 2000, the library became a department of the City of Lufkin, housed within the Parks and Recreation department.  The City is responsible for staff salaries, utilities and day-to-day operational costs.  The Library Board, consisting of nine members and two ex-officio members, is responsible for all books, audio materials, video materials, computer programs, magazines, etc. that are purchased for patron use, as well as all equipment, furniture and educational programming.

Throughout its history, Kurth Memorial Library has had capable leadership in its librarians and library directors.  Those individuals who have helped the library become such a success are Mrs. J. W. Hawkins, Mrs. Ora McMullen, Johnie McCall, Lillian Rutherford, Jimmie Fisher, Elizabeth Hartmen, Helen Mills, Ryan Alsworth, Joycelyn Clare, Terri Boomer, Sue Randleman and the current director, Lorraine Simoneau.  Dedicated staff members have made these people’s jobs much easier through the years.
   Through the years, Kurth Memorial Library has had tremendous support from the L
ufkin community, starting with the Ladies Auxiliary and including the Kurth family, and the Lufkin Service League, who kicked off the fund-raising effort in the 1970s with a generous donation.  Other supporters include the various members who have served on the Library Board of Directors, the Friends of the Library and the Angelina County Genealogical Society throughout the years, the many civic groups and individuals who have donated time, talents and resources to the library, and all of the patrons who have enjoyed the library’s services. 
The library currently has nearly 32,000 patron accounts and 78,300 items in the collect
ion.  The library’s collection includes separate sections for children’s books, young adult books, reference and adult books.  Special collections include biographies, westerns, science-fiction, mysteries, romance and Spanish language materials.  There are also selections of large-print books, audio books on both cassette and CD, and video materials on both VHS tape and DVD.